There seems to be no end in sight for the impasse that has stalled the election of new leadership for the province’s community policing forums (CPFs).
This follows a letter written by acting Provincial Commissioner Sindile Mfazi to police stations instructing them to halt the elections that were meant to get under way this month.
Elections for CPF leadership at station and cluster level were scheduled from September to December, with the provincial board’s new executive expected to be elected next year.
But with around only 30% of AGMs having taken place so far, it remains unclear when the instruction will be lifted.
Police Brigadier Novela Potelwa said the letter was sent to all the stations in the province to allow all parties to come to an understanding before the elections can go ahead.
“The background to the correspondence (was) to ensure that all parties are on the same wavelength.
“SAPS is committed to ensuring that the CPF structure is functional and contributing to the safety of all in the Western Cape. The election of its leadership has to be conducted in a fair and free environment that will produce leaders who will be accountable to all,” she said.
MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz said until the instruction from the SAPS was withdrawn, they were unable to proceed with officiating over AGMs.
“The message sent to CPFs stating that the department is withdrawing its support of CPFs is untrue and an attempt to divide the department from CPFs at the station level. The department’s decision to withdraw from AGMs is temporary and only in response to the instruction given by the acting provincial commissioner,” he said.
“The department has requested, at the highest levels that the SAPS leadership urgently find an amicable solution. It is unfortunate that the dysfunctionality of a few CPF structures has now impacted on all other CPFs.”
Meanwhile, the chairperson for the Nyanga CPF, Martin Makhasi, said the reason behind the halting of AGMs stemmed from proposed changes to their constitution, which they were not consulted on.
Makhasi said while they are ready to go ahead with the elections as soon as they were given the green light, they would not do so under the proposed changes. These amendments were said to give more control over the CPFs to the department as well as put in place measures that would drive a wedge between CPFs and Neighbourhood Watches.
“There are disagreements between the community and the department on the way forward with the AGM. Earlier this year, we gave a mandate to the department, police and the CPF board to go ahead with the amendment to the constitution and they failed to do that, and instead, put in directives via the back-door,” he said.
“The constitution has not been amended, and as such, all the CPFs are ready to go ahead.”